Board picks longtime Twin Cities educator as new Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent

Lisa Sayles-Adams picked as next Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent

Lisa Sayles-Adams picked as next Minneapolis Public Schools superintendent

The Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education has chosen current Eastern Carver County Schools Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams to lead its district.

The board made its decision late Friday afternoon during a meeting, which came just days after the finalists participated in public events with residents.

The two candidates — Dr. Sonia Stewart and Dr. Lisa Sayles-Adams — were announced as finalists earlier this month. Stewart and Sayles-Adams were each interviewed after having separate meet-and-greets with the public earlier this week.

Adams was nearly unanimously approved, getting voted through 8-1.

Dr. Stewart’s one vote came from MPS board director Ira Jourdain — in his comments before the vote, Jourdain pointed to her not being from the area as a positive.

“Having an outsider with a fresh set of eyes, I think, speaks volumes to the work that needs to be done,” Jourdain said.

When finalized, Sayles-Adams could start her new position as soon as the first of the year.

As for salary, the board still needs to work those details out too, but did briefly discuss the importance of offering a competitive rate compared to other metro districts.

A national firm helped narrow down the list of applicants for the search task force, which decided on the two finalists.

“We are thrilled Dr. Sayles-Adams will lead Minneapolis Public Schools into the future and are excited about her deep educational experience, passion for lifting students up and proven track record of improving student performance at public schools,” MPS School Board Chair Sharon El-Amin said in a statement. “She will provide both a vision and a strategy for continued growth for every student at MPS regardless of their background or zip code.”

Before assuming her current title on July 1, 2020, Sayles-Adams worked in a variety of other education roles, including teaching in Minneapolis for nine years. In total, she has more than 27 years of experience in education.

“This is a full-circle moment for me,” Sayles-Adams said. “I began my career in education working as a teacher in North Minneapolis and that’s where I learned that strong schools make a strong community. I am honored and thank the School Board for their vote of confidence in my commitment to serve as the next superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools. I look forward to partnering with teachers, students, staff and the community to make sure every student gets the high-quality education they deserve.”

With Sayles-Adams now chosen as the district’s preferred next superintendent, contract negotiations are expected to commence.

Previous Superintendent Ed Graff ended his contract in 2022 and Rochelle Cox is currently serving as the interim superintendent.